LEGAZPI CITY, Philippines – Albay province in Bicol may be solidly for Vice President and presidential aspirant Leni Robredo but a united Bicolandia may remain a pipe dream, with two governors endorsing her rival Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and his running mate, Davao City mayor Sara Duterte.
The Villafuertes in Camarines Sur and Sorsogon Governor Chiz Escudero have not endorsed her either, even if the latter is on her Senate slate.
Masbate 3rd District Representative Wilton “Tonton” Kho on Wednesday, February 16, posted on Facebook about Masbate Governor Antonio “Tony” Kho’s support for the Uniteam bets.
Tonton is the eldest son of the governor and Masbate 2nd District Representative Elisa Olga Kho.
The same Facebook post shows a picture of Catanduanes Governor Joseph “Boboy” Cua also raising the hand of Bongbong Marcos, but Cua clarified later on Wednesday that his presence at the meeting was incidental and that he was backing fellow Bicolano Robredo.
Kho is the second governor from the region to back Marcos and Duterte. Camarines Norte Governor Edgar Tallado endorsed the tandem on February 8, during the “Sara para sa Barangay” event in Daet City.
The Villafuerte political dynasty of Camarines Sur were earlier reported to be backing Uniteam as they met on February 7 with its senatorial aspirants, Jinggoy Estrada and Harry Roque, Ako Bicol Represnetative Elizaldy Co, and House Majority Leader Martin Romualdez.
But according to Councilor Jonas Soltes of Tinambac town, Governor Miguel Villafuerte and his father, 2nd District Representative Luis Raymund, both members of PDP-Laban, endorsed only Duterte.
The older Villafuerte on February 12 told the “All Team One Camarines Sur candidates” at the Capitol complex that he would not endorse any presidential bet.
“There is a candidate for Bicolana. I will not endorse the president but I’m leaving you to whom you, the CamSurians, want to vote for President. If you want to be with Leni, it’s fine with me,” the lawmaker said.
Among the six provinces of Bicol, Albay is the sole province in Bicol where local politicians showed unity in backing Robredo.
Catanduanes governor Cua, who was earlier reported to be backing the Marcos, corrected the impression in radio interviews that sameday, saying he made it clear that Catanduanes was the most conservative among the provinces in Bicol, and that the people there would “bash” him if he supported a candidate other than their fellow Bicolano.
While Robredo included Escudero in her Senate slate, he has not endorsed her.
Escudero who is also included in the senatorial slates of Sara Duterte, and the tandems of senators Ping Lacson and Tito Sotto, and Senator Manny Pacquiao and Buhay Representative Lito Atienza.
In Albay, congressmen Joey Sarte Salceda (2nd District) of PDP Laban, Edcel Lagman (1st District) of the Liberal Party, and Fernando Cabredo (3rd District); reelectionist Governor Al Francis Bichara; Legazpi Mayor and gubernatorial hopeful Noel Ros; and former 3rd District representative Fernando Gonzalez are all for Robredo.
The League of Mayors in Albay led by Libon Mayor Das Maronilla also announced that 18 mayors from three cities and 15 towns are backing Robredo.
But Salceda and several other politicians in Bicol are not carrying Kiko Pangilinan, Robredo’s running mate, as they have commitments to back Duterte for the vice presidency.
Bicol is one of the country’s vote-rich regions with 3.9 million registered voters as of October 23, 2021, according to data from the Commission on Elections.
Among the six provinces of Bicol, Camarines Sur has the highest registered voters with 1,321,196, followed by Albay with 895,353; Masbate, 596,679; Sorsogon, 542,425; Camarines Norte, 387,183; and Catanduanes, 203,073. – Rappler.com